I’ll admit it. The Book of Revelation used to intimate me. I would start reading it and stop once I got to something that I didn’t understand. That never took long. There are seals, angels, beasts, dragons, elders, strange creatures, lots of numbers, and much, much more. The symbolism of Revelation is confusing at best. Additionally, there are as many confusing theories as there are strange symbols. The study of end times (eschatology) has so many different sections. Not understanding dispensationalist, millennial beliefs, or the signs of the anti-Christ had me and I’m sure others, how do I say it, left behind. So though I had read Revelation multiple times, I was clueless as to what it said. Enter Dr. Mulholland and LOST. I’ve mentioned Dr. Mulholland in some of my earlier blogs(here and here and here), and I have great respect for him as a disciple and teacher. My love of LOST has been mentioned before as well, and if you give me a little time I think you will see the connection between LOST and Revelation.
LOST is a television show of pure brilliance. The writers have produced a show that is a complex web of times, places, and people and have communicated it to us, so that it continues to be intriguing and fascinating. One of the ways they do that is through their use of symbols and images that we are familiar with. The names of people are not just put together because they sound good together, but some have profound significance. Philosophers are a major theme: John Locke and Rousseau are just a few of the names that point us beyond just a name, but also give us insight into the nature of the show itself. The writers have freely spoken that Charlotte Staples Lewis (a character they introduced in season 4) is a reference to the great Christian author C.S. Lewis. So for one who has read and understood Lewis’ work especially Chronicles of Narnia, we, again, have insight into the nature of the island. The writers mentioned one such example and that is the wardrobe that the children entered into Narnia are similar to the way into which people move into the world that is the Island. There are doors into this other world, if you know where they are or stumble upon them. That gives one reason why the island is almost impossible to find the right place and the right time (note that the wardrobe was not always the entrance into Narnia, but sometimes was just a wardrobe.)
The symbolism continues throughout LOST. There are numbers of importance. They use images and ideas from movies, books, philosophy, and scientific theory. While we may not fully understood the signs and symbols or what they mean, we at least recognize them and research them to get the truth from those symbols. The symbols make sense because they are a part of our Pool of Images. Now, imagine a world 2000 years from now, and somebody stumbles upon the LOST complete Series DVD set. They dust off their DVD player and watch it all the way through. Would they be able to make sense of it initially? Some of it, yes, but not all of it. In 2000 years, how many people will read or watched The Chronicles of Narnia? If they are going to want to understand LOST, they will have to understand us and our symbols. When they successfully do that, then they can understand the deeper meaning of LOST.
Now, I think you can see what this has to do with Revelation. As Dr. Mulholland is teaching us in our Revelation class (NT666), we need to jump into the Jewish Pool of Images that John uses to describe this vision. I think I finally get why Revelation is difficult to understand. It was so hard to explain. How do you describe the richness of heaven in the languages of Earth? For John, the only way he can give his readers both them and us an idea about what he sees, he has to speak symbolically. Let’s take a brief look at Rev. 4:3 “And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald.” (NRSV) This image refers to God who is sitting on the throne, but what is significant about jasper, carnelian, and emerald? The breastplate of the high priest of the Jews had 12 jewels on it for the 12 tribes of Israel. The first jewel is jasper. The last jewel is carnelian. The significance of the Emerald is that it is the stone that represents Judah from which the Messiah came from. So saying that the one sitting there that looks like an emerald is a symbol for the Messiah that comes from the tribe of Judah: Jesus Christ. That is just one small example of the use of symbolism that is used throughout the book of Revelation.
I went into this class intimated by Revelation. I was afraid to approach it because I was clueless as to what it means. Now, that my Jewish Pool of Images is expanding and Revelation is being, well, revealed to me. I’m more intimated than ever. Not because of the strange signs and symbols that are present, but because of the challenging call to radical discipleship.